When I first wrote about my experience of Bartholin’s Cysts I had no idea how the post would resonate with so many women who have experienced what is a relatively common gynaecological problem – that so many don’t seem to know about.
But what I want to talk about here, for all those who suffer them too, is the effect on your mental health.
Because, once you’ve had one of these blighters, many sufferers find that the anticipation of having another one is almost as bad as having one.
And I want to say – you are not going mad and, in my experience, it’s normal.
We have a lot to deal with as women – from menstruation to menopause, bacteria vaginosis to thrush, vulvodynia to vaginal atrophy – sometimes it’s like being on a ghastly merry-go-round where you get rid of one thing, only to find you’ve got another (BV-antibiotics-thrush anybody?).
Now, I have to say, as I always do that I am not a doctor nor medically qualified but it seems to me from the stories I hear that knowledge and understanding of Bartholin’s Cysts in large swathes of the medical population is woeful.
In fact, the standard treatment of draining and inserting a Word catheter seems positively medieval when so many fantastic advances have been made in other areas of medicine.
I was lucky enough to have marsupialization but I am lucky to benefit from our National Health Service and for many of the women who write to me, this just isn’t an option.
So, how can we cope with the dreaded unease when the old familiar tingle appears or it is suddenly uncomfortable to sit or walk.
Firstly, have a read of my post on home remedies for Bartholin’s Cysts.
Bear in mind that these are all things that many sufferers have tried, for example popping their cyst at home or taking supplements to try to reduce the size of the cyst. What works for one, might not work for another – consider these ideas as a useful toolkit.
I always find that having some sort of plan is reassuring, rather than wallowing in self pity and feeling that there is nothing that can be done.
Two points to note though:
- Bartholin’s Cysts do not affect fertility or pregnancy
- They are not sexually transmitted – there is absolutely no shame in having one
In fact, from all the articles I have read, it seems we still don’t know why they occur – whether it’s a genetic predisposition, who can say.
But in 2021 – my view is that somebody in the medical profession ought to be able to.
Stress seems to play a big part in reoccurrence but factors like lack of exercise or constipation can be a trigger for some.
If this condition is making you miserable then absolutely seek professional counselling or at the very least recognise the impact on your mental health – as with any chronic illness, it chips away at you gradually unless you take control.
Talk to your GP who should be able to recommend a good local counsellor but it’s worth being brave and asking your mum, aunts, sisters, close friends if they have had any experience of Bartholin’s Cysts. You may be surprised.
Talk to your partner, too, and explain what a Bartholin’s Cyst is if they don’t know (particularly important for men). Don’t be shy.
Put together a ‘Bartholin Box’ (catchy, don’t you think) – with some supplies – Epsom salts, Prid salve, serrapeptase, calamine lotion – whatever works for you – plus some gauze and a heating pad.
Make sure your self-care is top-notch – a soothing playlist on Spotify, plenty of sleep, gentle exercise and warm baths (no bubble bath though).
Check your diet contains nutritious foods – not just quick-fix junk food and diet drinks.
Now may be the time for a change of lifestyle to prioritise you and your health. Anxiety is a nasty beast which tends to lose it’s power when held up to the light and confronted.
Time to take charge.
Please share what has worked for you in the comments below. We can all learn from one another.